As not only a filmmaker, but a film fan, I love a good movie, a classic movie, if you will. But does a movie have to be good for it to be a classic? (We all know the answer to this question, a resounding ‘no’, but hear me out, if you will.)
Once Upon a Time in the West is my favorite film, it has an epic and organic beauty, unique cinematic language, operatic story, brilliantly crafted characters and an equally grandiose score. Once Upon a Time in the West is pure technicolor, cinematic bliss, that should be studied and loved for ages. It is what you would call a “good, classic film.”
There are of course many other great films that I love. Well made, well written, well acted and just generally great films are awesome to watch. But, the fact of the matter is, there are more bad films than there are good ones. There are more utterly stupid films than there are intelligent ones. For every “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Seven Samurai”, or “Wrath of Kahn” there are a dozen films like “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”, “Year One” or anything by Michael Bay.
Now here comes the tricky part. Sometimes there is a bad film, or a dumb film, that is SO bad or SO dumb that it becomes good, or even great. Sometimes the wealth of awfulness to be had in this one film is enough to make it become a “classic film” or a “cult classic”, if you prefer. MOST cult classics are knowingly bad. The films tongues are clamped firmly in their cheeks and being played for over the toppness by both the people in front of and behind the camera. Sometimes this isn’t the case, say with “Mommie Dearest.” But for the most part, films that become cult classics revel in their cheesy goodness and are paid back for it in spades (after many years of failure and degradation.)
And that brings me to the subject of this review, the seminal cinematic masterpiece of 1982, Megaforce. The film is directed by famed auteur Hal Needham, of “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannibal Run” acclaim. The film stars Barry Bostwick of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, Michael “Xanadu” Beck, Persis Khambatta aka “that bald chick from Star Trek the Motion Picture”, Edward Mulhare of Knight Rider fame AND Henry Silva, aka every bad guy from EVERY movie in the 80’s.
The plot of the film really isn’t worth mentioning, as I’ve watched the movie about 20 times and can’t say for sure what it is. I will tell you that it involves a group of attractive, manly men, who like to wear skin tight silver jumpsuits and ride armored dirt bikes. They all also have lovely feathered hair and an abundance of brotherly love and respect for one another. OH and they are all members of an elite, world funded, top secret, pseudo-military fighting team, called Megaforce.
The Megaforce is called into situations when other people just can’t get the job done or national politics wont allow action to be taken. And that is what they do in this film. Some small, insignificant, third world republic (the fictional nation of Gamibia) is threatened by a villain and Megaforce is sent in to kick pseudo-commie ass. All with hair flying and rockets blazing of course. There are a few twists thrown at them along the way, such as being forced to have a woman join their team. Despite this woman being a navy seal or something, they do thoroughly humiliate and test her to her limits (which she passes with flying colors) before they then…. don’t let her come on the mission. Oh, and the bad guy used to be the leader of Megaforce’s (Captain Ace Hunter) roommate.
You see? I just can’t spell out in clear terms just what the movie is about, there’s a lot of stuff going on, most of it unimportant. But this movie doesn’t need a plot, it knows what you want and gives it to you by the spandex suit full. It throws cheesy special effects, hammy acting, missile firing dirtbikes, rampant misogyny and cornball dialog out a pace so dizzying even Dario Argento wouldn’t be able to keep up!
And Megaforce never lets it’s whacked out badness go soft either; from it’s written AND narrated opening screen, to its blooper filled, Ace Frehley scored end titles, Megaforce is packed to the rafters with so much cheddar you’ll need a quadruple bypass once done with it.
Once Upon a Time in the West may be my favorite good film, but Megaforce is my favorite bad film. If you’re a fan of dumb 80’s action films, the original G.I. Joe cartoon show… or if you’re a gay nerd, Megaforce will be like candy to you. But really, all this brings to mind is the Megaforce credo:
“Deeds, not words.”
Megaforce the Film certainly throws enough weird and retarded cinematic deeds onto the screen, that my words truly cannot do it justice.
Hunt down a VHS of it NOW (as it isn’t on DVD yet.) Pop it in, then sit back, send your brain away and let the campy, over the top, surreality of Megaforce wrap you up in shimmering silver spandex.
Megaforce, a Film by Hal Needham- 10 out of 10 pastel blue headbands.
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